Vorwerk VK100 pictures and hands-on

Robotic vacuum cleaners are nothing new. On paper, the idea behind them is brilliant. They do away with the mundane task of cleaning, letting you get on with something else. In reality, most do little more than to glance at your floor, occasionally kissing it, before getting stuck on the side of your coffee table or carpet.

The Vorwerk is different. It sucks. Badly. Being bagless is also a bonus, as the flat disc-shaped robo-vacuums tend to fill up quick and can be quite costly if they need a bag replaced each time. With the Vorwerk it's simply a case of detaching the top and emptying the dust into your bin, which is a nice touch.

As for vacuuming itself, the VK100 has a no-frills approach. You tap the big green button on the top to turn it on and then hit it again to set it free. It does the rest. If you want, you can set a time and day to vacuum, so you don't need to touch it. Alternatively there is a spot-clean option if you have accidentally made a mess and need it cleaning up.

Every mode works pretty much the same and sees the VK100 driving into the centre of the room, scanning it and then going about a fairly logical route covering every part of the room that it "sees". The VK100 has a real skill at negotiating the room and is almost fastidious when it comes to ensuring every corner is covered.

A recent spot of redecorating had left all sorts of mess on a wooden floor, as well as there being different shaped objects and carpets to negotiate. Other than a bunched up rug, the Vorwerk had no issues at all. Its small rotating brush on one side also did a good job of keeping skirting boards clean, although the robot did face that usual issue of cleaning into the very corners of each room.

Interestingly, the VK100 appeared to be getting itself a bit of a run up when it came to raised objects. We noticed on several occasions that it would leave the open parts of a room, where rugs tend to be, until last. It would then gain as much speed as it could, so that if a rug happened to be there, it would get on top of it.

The included magnetic borders also did a good job keeping the VK100 off stairs and from going underneath anything where it might become stuck. There was the odd moment when it got into a corner it couldn't escape from but it was rare. Annoyingly though, when it does get stuck, it doesn't make an audible beep, so you can't hear it from other rooms. This means you return to find it hasn't finished vacuuming and instead is just sitting stuck on an object, asking to be put down.

Really though, as robotic vacuums go, this is the only one we have used which has genuinely replaced our day-to-day cleaning. It is powerful enough to get rid of most mess, quiet enough that it doesn't irritate while going about its business and careful enough that it cleans up everything around it.